As founding member of Australian-American rock band Liars, Angus Andrew has constantly sought progression through experimentation. With four members having previously departed the group, recent albums TFCF (2017) and Titled with the Word Fountain (2018) were recorded and produced entirely by Andrew. However, for Liars’ 10th album, The Apple Drop, the producer/songwriter invited former live players Cameron Deyell and Laurence Pike into the fold.
Given complete freedom to experiment, Andrew focused their attention on live improvisation, directing his new band members down manifold avenues of exploration. Despite the pandemic forcing the trio to abandon progress, Andrew had enough material to complete the album, warping Deyell and Pike’s raw instrumentation with his own selection of probability-based algorithmic tools.
Angus, with the last two Liars albums being solo efforts, was it always the intention to bring other musicians back into the fold for your 10th album?
AA: “After playing with Laurence and Cameron during the Australian leg of our last few tours I’d gotten a taste of what it would be like to stand in a room with these two musicians and began to imagine the possibilities of us working together. I was already a big fan of Laurence’s solo work and knew Cameron was an amazing musician outright, so the idea of being able to connect with their incredible skills made me excited to be in an acoustic space again. Most of the previous records were made in the computer, but I wanted The Apple Drop to have a different sonic architecture.”
Laurence, at what point did you become involved in the band?
LP: “It was late 2018 that we first did some shows together. I’d already been a fan of Liars since some of their earliest releases, so they’ve been an integral part of my musical journey. Obviously, being aware of the band’s legacy and what that entails, it was exciting to be involved – initially to tour and then in the studio, but it all felt very natural.”
Did you feel a sense of serendipity?
LP: “When I knew that Angus had come back to Australia I had a strange sense that our paths would cross at some point and we’d become kindred spirits, and that became obvious as soon as we started playing together because everything just clicked. Angus approaches every album with a sense of childlike exploration and that’s very much part of my way of making music too. Daresay I’ve been influenced by his work, so it would be great if this record is the first step in a long process.”
Did you immediately have ideas about how you could contribute?
LP: “There was an element of that, but the main thing was that I didn’t want to fuck it up [laughs]. The beautiful thing is that Angus has an incredibly open and welcoming way of working – at no point did I feel I was secondary to the process, and that made things super-easy.”
In the midst of the pandemic, how did the collaboration unfold?
AA: “Initially, we were working in all sorts of directions and trying to come up with different angles, but beyond Cameron and Laurence’s instrument-playing they have a sense of awareness when it comes to audio quality and brought a lot to that. We spent time together in the studio but were ultimately separated because of lockdown for a long period. For me, a lot of the songwriting process has to do with editing and affecting sound so that I can figure out where things are going to sit. Sorting through all of their ideas and weaving those parts together was only something I could do thanks to their huge influence.”
LP: “Getting a good drum sound was the first stop for those initial sessions, then after shutdown Cameron and I were recording overdubs at home and sending files back and forth. When we were in the studio sessions together it was about feeling things through and trying to find a thread. That became more obvious once we’d started to finesse things, but so much of that has to do with Angus’s wonderful way of reframing things when left to his own devices. What was equally exciting for me was being able to feed ideas to him without knowing how they might come back.”
Where did you start pinning those ideas down?
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